BEIJING, July 16 (Xinhua) -- China's job market remained "generally stable" in the first half of the year despite the economic downturn, latest data showed.
China added 7.25 million jobs in the first half, an increase of 310,000 from the number seen during the same period last year, Yin Weimin, minister of human resources and social security, revealed during a meeting on Tuesday.
The registered urban unemployment rate stayed unchanged at 4.1 percent, he said.
Yin noted that the current slowdown is still within a "predictable range," but stressed that grim challenges lie ahead in creating enough jobs amid uncertainties both at home and abroad.
"Maintaining a steady job market will be a long-term and arduous task," he said, adding that labor supplies between the ages of 20 and 59 will peak around 2020.
China saw a record high of 6.99 million students leaving universities in 2013, a 2.8-percent increase year on year, while a sizeable surplus of workers in rural areas is seeking jobs in cities.
The job data followed Monday's release of a string of economic indicators that showed China's economic growth slid to 7.6 percent during the January-June period, the weakest first-half performance in three years.
The news put pressure on policymakers to stabilize short-term growth and employment while driving through reforms for long-term good.
Last week, Premier Li Keqiang told provincial governors that the policies need to keep growth and employment above a "floor" and inflation below a "ceiling."
During Tuesday's meeting, Yin stressed the role of the service sector in absorbing new labor, as every one percentage point of growth in that industry would bring roughly 700,000 jobs.
The service sector accounted for roughly 44.6 percent of China's GDP in 2012, and policymakers aim to bring the proportion to 47 percent by 2015 and make it a strategic focus for the country's industrial restructuring and upgrading to ease reliance on traditional manufacturing.
China will work to increase jobs in the tertiary industry while stabilizing employment in the manufacturing sector, Yin said, adding more efforts will be made to create more jobs in emerging businesses and the private sector.
China is aiming to keep the jobless rate below or at 4.6 percent this year.